Reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski earned an early trip to NASCAR principal’s office for recent comments in the media.
NASCAR chairman Brian France and International Speedway Corporation chairman Lesa France Kennedy met individually with the Penske Racing driver on Friday to strongly emphasize he needs to more informed before speaking.
“Everybody loves Brad’s candor, Brian included,” Brett Jewkes, NASCAR’s chief communications officer, said on Saturday. “But there are some things Brad’s not as informed on. He’s not aware of things that are being worked on or achieved.
“The message Brian wanted to send was you need to understand the issues you’re talking about a little deeper before you talk about them.”
Keselowski was not penalized. He declined through members of his public relations department to discuss the meeting. His only comments came via Twitter.
“Spent some time with the Lesa and Brian from the NASCAR team after yesterday’s [USA Today] article, the passion we all share for our sport is amazing!” Keselowski wrote.
Jewkes said the meeting was not just about the USA Today article. He did not specify what Keselowski said to earn a trip to France’s office across the street from Daytona International Speedway two days before the Daytona 500.
But Keselowski did mention France and his sister directly along the lines of sponsors, teams and tracks not always working together with NASCAR.
“And until all three of those can unite, we’re a house divided, and we’re making bad decisions that are affecting how to generate revenue for the sport,” Keselowski said in the newspaper.
This is not the first time Keselowski has been called on the carpet for being outspoken. He was fined $25,000 in 2011 for criticizing NASCAR’s move to fuel injection.
He also was fined $25,000 for tweeting during a red flag stoppage last year at Phoenix, defying a request by NASCAR that drivers don’t carry cell phones inside their cars after he tweeted during a stoppage in the 2012 Daytona 500.
“Brad has been asking for more dialogue with Brian,” Jewkes said. “He wants to be a leader in the garage. Frankly, Brian wants more dialogue with him. [Friday], there was a good reason to have dialogue.”
Tony Stewart predicted this might happen. The three-time champion said during last year’s banquet that Keselowski hasn’t learned to be cautious and encouraged people to let him be himself.
“Hopefully, that won’t bite him like it has a lot of drivers in the past,” Stewart said of Keselowski being outspoken. “It’s refreshing. It’s nice to see somebody who just speaks from the heart and isn’t guarded, and that’s the way all of us should be.
“I think that’s what the fans want to hear. But I’m so scared that at some point, somebody is going to turn on him, and it goes downhill from there.”
Four-time champion Jeff Gordon said he could see NASCAR wanting Keselowski to be more informed.
“It’s not out of the ordinary for a new champion to feel confident to be able to express an opinion on things,” he said. “Brad cares a lot about the sport. He’s not trying to do anything that would hurt the sport. When you’re that open, it doesn’t surprise me NASCAR is wanting to talk about it.”
Jewkes made it clear the meeting was not to discourage Keselowski from speaking his mind.
“The most important thing is Brian wants him to be candid,” Jewkes said of Keselowski. “He wants him to speak his mind. But we all prefer he be up to speed on everything.”